The Department of State operates an open assignments system designed to provide all members of the Foreign Service with information on all positions within the Foreign Service that will be vacant during a specific timeframe. The purpose of this system is to ensure that all specialists have the chance to compete openly with their peers for vacancies.
Specialists who are eligible to be transferred receive a list of upcoming vacancies for which they may compete. Specialists then must submit a "bid list," a list of those positions for which they would like to be considered. Bid lists must be completed in accordance with guidelines set by the Department. These guidelines often require specialists to bid on positions in hardship posts and to bid on positions in more than one geographic region.
Specialists also are invited to submit comments regarding the choices on their bid list. Specialists may wish to be assigned to certain posts for health, family, professional or other reasons. The Department of State attempts to provide career-enhancing opportunities to its Foreign Service Specialists and to consider individual assignment needs. Should a mutually agreeable position for the employee not be available, however, the Department ultimately will decide where the employee's skills and qualifications are most needed. All vacancies must be filled, and all Foreign Service Specialists must be assigned.